The bacterium Pseudomonas protegens antagonizes the microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using a blend of toxins.
The unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and the bacterium Pseudomonas protegens serve as a model to study the interactions between photosynthetic and heterotrophic microorganisms. P. protegens secretes the cyclic lipopeptide orfamide A that interferes with cytosolic Ca2+ homeostasis in C. reinhardtii resulting in deflagellation of the algal cells. Here, we studied the roles of additional secondary metabolites secreted by P. protegens using individual compounds and co-cultivation of algae with bacterial mutants. Rhizoxin S2, pyrrolnitrin, pyoluteorin, 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG) and orfamide A all induce changes in cell morphology and inhibit the growth of C. reinhardtii. Rhizoxin S2 exerts the strongest growth inhibition, and its action depends on the spatial structure of the environment (agar versus liquid culture). Algal motility is unaffected by rhizoxin S2 and is most potently inhibited by orfamide A (IC50 = 4.1 μM). Pyrrolnitrin and pyoluteorin both interfere with algal cytosolic Ca2+ homeostasis and motility whereas high concentrations of DAPG immobilize C. reinhardtii without deflagellation or disturbance of Ca2+ homeostasis. Co-cultivation with a regulatory mutant of bacterial secondary metabolism (ΔgacA) promotes algal growth under spatially structured conditions. Our results reveal how a single soil bacterium uses an arsenal of secreted antialgal compounds with complementary and partially overlapping activities.